A former F/A-18 pilot faced the military equivalent of a civilian grand jury hearing, for his alleged role in the “Fat Leonard” scandal that has rocked the service. Cmdr. David Alexander Morales has been charged with bribery, graft, prostitution and adultery, the U.S. Naval Institute Press (USNI) reported June 26.
The scandal is named after Leonard Francis, a Malaysian, who headed Glenn Defense Marine Asia. Navy authorities arrested Francis in 2013, after an investigation unveiled a widespread scheme. Leonard, who weighs 350 pounds, bribed Navy officials with concert tickets, prostitutes, and other accommodations in exchange for overlooking serious billing discrepancies for contract work. He is awaiting sentencing.
USNI reported that Navy prosecutors were able to produce email and text evidence that showed Morales provided Francis with information about personnel and ship movements, in exchange for the illegal largesse, beginning in 2011. There is no evidence that Morales provided any classified information to Francis.
Morales is the first officer to face charges in military court. Nevertheless, “Fat Leonard” has led to numerous disciplinary actions and acknowledgements of culpability among flag-rank officers and senior officials, following Justice Department investigations.
Frank Spinner, a former Air Force lawyer who represents Morales, told USNI the government has no evidence that Morales engaged in sex with prostitutes. Spinner also described Morales’ case as minor, compared to others. “The sharks have been prosecuted,” Spinner said. “What’s left is the minnows.”